In Jamaica, it's not easy to sell or buy hybrid cars

Jamaica's mellow reputation and Rasta vibe contributes to an international reputation of an island nation that moves at a leisurely pace. And the term "leisurely" certainly applies to the rate of sales of hybrids there.

And we thought Mitsubishi i sales in the US have been slow.

The country's Toyota dealership is still in the process of explaining hybrid technology to many of its prospective customers, with the widespread perception remains that a standard Toyota Prius needs to be plugged in for electrical charging, the Jamaica Gleaner reports. Because of such slow exposure, Toyota has only sold about 10 hybrids in Jamaica since the Japanese automaker started selling them there in 2010. And we thought Mitsubishi i sales in the US have been slow.

Toyota dealers in Jamaica continue to tout hybrid technology that can boost fuel economy by about 30 percent but are going up against the fact that Toyota's hybrids now need to be pre-ordered and aren't kept in stock because of sluggish demand. There's also the fact that Toyota's Japanese operations insist on an approval process that ensures the hybrids sent there can handle Jamaica's road conditions, and it typically takes three to four months for a Prius to get to Jamaica once ordered.

Island locales provide a curious dichotomy for advanced-powertrain vehicles. On one hand, the driving distances tend to be relatively small, lengthening the amount of time it takes to pay back the original cost premium. On the flip side, importing fuel to islands makes gas prices skyrocket and can prove costly for the economy in island nations. Late last year, for instance, the government of another Caribbean nation, Barbados, estimated it spends about $250 million a year on gas used for personal vehicles. That's why the government there is pushing for more electric-vehicle adoption, though the number of EVs on the island was in the low double-digits as of mid-2013.

Toyota Information

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